1. Strongylodon macrobotrys A.Gray

    1. With its long cascading translucent jade-green flowers beneath a canopy of pale green foliage, jade vine is one of the most beautiful and elegant of all tropical climbers. It comes from the rainforests of the Philippines, a scattered group of 7,100 islands in tropical Asia. It is a member of the same family as peas and beans (Leguminosae), and is closely related to the kidney bean and runner bean group (tribe Phaseoleae).

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description
Strongylodon macrobotrys is commonly known as jade vine, due to its striking blue-green flowers. The destruction of rainforests in the Philippines threatens this species in the wild.

With its long cascading translucent jade-green flowers beneath a canopy of pale green foliage, jade vine is one of the most beautiful and elegant of all tropical climbers. It comes from the rainforests of the Philippines, a scattered group of 7,100 islands in tropical Asia. It is a member of the same family as peas and beans (Leguminosae), and is closely related to the kidney bean and runner bean group (tribe Phaseoleae).

The plant has been grown at Kew for many years but, until 1995, it had never produced seed. After careful studies of the flower structure, scientists from the Jodrell Laboratory managed to pollinate the flowers successfully so that seeds developed.

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

Restricted to the rainforests of the Philippines (Luzon, Mindoro and Catanduanes Islands).

Description

Overview: A woody vine with stems which can grow up to 18 m long.

Leaves:The leaves have three leaflets and are up to 25 cm long.

Flowers: The flowers are in pendent trusses (pseudoracemes) up to 3 m long, comprising many luminous blue-green flowers measuring up to 6 cm across. The flowers show modifications associated with pollination by bats.

Pods: The shortly oblong or rounded fleshy pods are up to 15 cm long, quite unlike the typical legume pod, and contain up to 12 seeds.

Threats and conservation

The rainforests of the Philippines are disappearing at an alarming rate – originally the islands were almost completely forested, but a 1988 survey estimated that only 20 per cent of the forest remained. The speed at which the rainforest is vanishing adds a sense of urgency to Kew's research into jade vine’s floral biology.

Pollinating the jade vine - calling Batman…

Although jade vine is a rare sight in the wild, British botanic gardens have had great success in growing it. It flowers happily here at Kew, at Cambridge and also at the Eden Project in Cornwall. However it is one thing to get the plant to flower, and quite another to get it pollinated so that the huge bean-like pods will develop to contain fertile seeds.

In the wild jade vine is pollinated by bats, so when the plant is cultivated in a hothouse the horticulturalists in charge of it, using their hands, have to mimic the effect of bats visiting the plant to drink nectar. The bats hang upside down to sample jade vine’s nectar, and the plant gently brushes pollen onto the bat’s head while it drinks. The next plant the bat visits collects the pollen from the first before brushing its own pollen to be transported elsewhere. It is a great example of co-evolution in action; the plant and the bat have evolved to work perfectly in cooperation with each other.

In 1995, Chrissie Prychid at Kew used this technique to get the jade vine in the Palm House to make pods for the first time in over thirty years. The pods were so heavy they had to be supported with makeshift string nets to prevent them dropping off before they were ripe. Once we understand how to grow rare and endangered plants at Kew, it allows us to develop new techniques and expertise which can be passed on to local conservationists in our partner countries, so that in the future they can safeguard their own plant heritage.

Uses

Jade vine is cultivated as an ornamental plant.

Cultivation

Jade vine has been successfully propagated from nodal cuttings at Kew. A small slice is made at the node at the end of the cutting to encourage callus development. A potting mixture containing 50% perlite is used initially, but the cuttings are then placed in richer compost after rooting has occurred. Bottom heat is provided and the cuttings are kept in a transparent plastic bag to prevent them from drying out. Rooting is easily achieved within six weeks.

July is the best time to take cuttings at Kew, as the parent plant will have put on plenty of growth at that time. If several cuttings are to be taken from a long piece of stem, it is essential to mark the top and bottom of the stem to avoid confusion and ensure that the cuttings are placed the right way up in the compost.

After about 18 months, the new plants will have produced several metres of growth. They need to achieve plenty of vegetative growth in order to flower. It is thought that they should be kept under glass in humid conditions at around 20-30°C, but Kew is experimenting with some plants in cooler, drier conditions.

This species at Kew

Jade vine can be seen growing in the Palm House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew.

Distribution
Philippines
Ecology
Damp forests, along streams or in ravines
Conservation
Independently assessed as Vulnerable (VU) according to IUCN Red List criteria.
Hazards

None known

Images

Distribution

Found In:

Philippines

Introduced Into:

India, Malaya, New Guinea, Trinidad-Tobago

Common Names

English
Jade vine

Strongylodon macrobotrys A.Gray appears in other Kew resources:

Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
34682.000
Bannochie, Barbados 29047.554
Bannochie, Barbados 22674.000

First published in U.S. Expl. Exped., Phan. 1: 448 (1854)

Accepted in:

  • [1] (2016) Phytotaxa 250: 1-431
  • [2] Nelson Sutherland, C.H. (2008) Catálogo de las plantes vasculares de Honduras. Espermatofitas . SERNA/Guaymuras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
  • [3] Lock, J.M. & Ford, C.S. (2004) Legumes of Malesia a Check-List . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • [4] Kumar, S. & Sane, P.V. (2003) Legumes of South Asia. A Checklist . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • [6] Smith, A.C. (1985) Flora Vitiensis Nova. A new flora for Fiji (Spermatophytes only) 3: 1-758. Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden, Lawai

Literature

  • [5] Huang, S.-F. (1991). Strongylodon (Leguminosae–Erythrininae), a revision of the genus. Wageningen Agric. Univ. Papers 90-8: 1–69.
  • [7] Andrews, S. & Lewis, G. P. (1984). Plants in Peril, 3. Strongylodon macrobotrys. The Kew Magazine 1(4): 188 - 190.
  • [8] Verdcourt, B. (1979). A manual of New Guinea Legumes. Office of Forests, Division of Botany, Lae, Papua New Guinea, Botany Bulletin 11: 1–645.
  • [9] Polhill, R. M. (1972). Strongylodon macrobotrys (Leguminosae). Curtis's Botanical Magazine 174(2), t. 627.

Sources

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2017). Published on the internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp
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